Friday, January 24, 2014

How to Handle the “M” Words: Marriage and Menopause

Menopause. Most women are all-too-familiar with the changes their bodies will start to undergo as they head into their 50s. While jokes about hot flashes can help to lighten the mood surrounding this hormonal change, the truth is that menopause symptoms can be the root cause of failed marriages…even those that have seemingly stood the test of time. If there is any small crack in the armor of your marriage, menopause may be just the catalyst to break it apart.

We can thank the lack of hormone production (estrogen and progesterone) for the creation of menopause. This natural occurrence leads to a variety of possible symptoms, which not only affect women but also the men in their lives.

Symptoms of Menopause

• Hot flashes (short bouts of sudden heat occurring in different areas of the body or face)
• Night sweats (often due to hot flashes)
• Irregular menstrual cycles (spotting, heavy bleeding, more frequent, longer lasting)
• Unpredictable mood swings (irritability due to stress, fatigue or depression)
• Weight gain in the abdomen, hips and thighs (due to loss of muscle mass, genetics and an unhealthy lifestyle)
• Dry skin (due to the loss of estrogen)
• Thinning hair (due to hormonal imbalances, stress, genetics or illness)
• Irregular sleep patterns (often due to waking up from night sweats and hot flashes)
• Vaginal dryness (due to the reduction of vaginal lubrication produced during sex)
• Osteoporosis (weakening of bones due to the loss of estrogen)

Of course, there are varying degrees of menopausal symptoms; some women will be seriously affected while others may only experience minor changes. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, you have to realize that men simply won’t fully understand what you’re going through. In fact, they may be scared of your unpredictable mood swings and frustrated by your lack of interest in sex.

Ways to Combat the Effects of Menopause

• Emotional effects: Talk about your feelings regarding changes to your physical appearance. Chances are your husband is still very attracted to you, regardless of how you view yourself.
• Mood swings: Explore meditation, yoga or other ways to reduce stress. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating unprocessed foods and exercising regularly.
• Physical effects: Lead an active lifestyle. Don’t fall into the “couch potato” trap and let fat storage take over.
• Hot flashes: Identify what triggers your hot flashes and then work to avoid those (caffeine, spicy foods, heat, tight clothes, stress). Dress in layers and use fans when you can. Regular exercise may also help.
• Sexual intimacy: Try vaginal moisturizers or lubricants. Explore alternative stimulation techniques. Talk to your doctor about estrogen replacement to treat vaginal dryness. Talk to a therapist who specializes in sexual dysfunction.

If you are experiencing any signs of menopause, contact Dr. Marilyn Kutzscher in San Francisco at 415-923-3560 or She can help you determine ways to deal with this inevitable condition so both you and your spouse can navigate the ups and downs of menopause.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Protect Your Health When Traveling Internationally

While traveling abroad can be exotic and exciting, many Americans make the mistake of failing to take the right health precautions before, during and after their trips. Those “precautions” will vary, depending on the region in which you are traveling, so it’s important to schedule a doctor visit at least three months before your departure to ensure you take the right measures to protect your health.

International Travel Tips for Health

  • Get the appropriate vaccinations for influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, pneumonia, measles, polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever, meningitis, dengue and others
  • Be aware of the diseases common to the area in which you are traveling
  • Bring any prescription medications you may need
  • Ask your doctor about bringing antibiotics
  • Drink bottled water to avoid traveler’s diarrhea
  • Avoid getting drinks with ice – the ice may be contaminated
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked food – even salads and fruit with thin skin
  • Check all travel warnings
  • Avoid eating in establishments that don’t appear clean
  • If you will be sexually active, bring condoms and practice safe sex
  • Pay attention to your body; if you are feeling ill, get medical attention 
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose
  • Get plenty of sleep
Depending on where you have traveled, it may be wise to visit your doctor after your trip for a routine check-up. Your doctor can advise you on this during your pre-travel appointment.

If you are planning to travel internationally, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marilyn Kutzscher in San Francisco at 415-923-3560 or to determine what steps you should take before, during and after your travels.